It’s A Dean’s Life Vol. 24

In the College of Humanities and the Arts, we leverage the arts and humanities to ask the most important ideas of our time. This fall, we are embedding this motto directly into our curriculum. Our faculty are coordinating 19 events over the course of the 2019–2020 year to engage with our two College programming themes: The “Deep Humanities & Arts,” and “Borderlands: Migration and Immigration in the 21st Century.” Faculty have enthusiastically responded to both themes—especially to Borderlands, and our fall semester has drawn students from design, theatre, music, world languages, journalism, English, and film into these events. 

Our Borderlands events allow us to reconceptualize the idea of borders through a focus on “Blurring Boundaries, Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges.” Our own H&A Marketing Team was crucial in helping us to understand the range of possibilities within this theme. Their wonderful logo for the events allowed us to envision the flexible nature of the Borderlands theme and how it could help us to conceptualize the positive directions that the arts and humanities can set for a topic that has been so divisive within our nation over the last three years. Their work has highlighted another major value in our College: our belief that the collaboration between the arts and humanities is the most productive way to engage and reimagine how major ideas affect our students and our state. The arts and humanities continue to illuminate each other through intellectual, aesthetic, and artistic explorations within and outside of the classroom here at San José State University. 

Attendance has been very strong at our events, which have ranged from rakugo (Japanese comedic storytelling) to a reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Sonia Nazario. Many of these events are described within this issue of Expressions. We have also discovered how central the Borderlands theme is to faculty research and creative activity, as well as faculty-and-student learning collaborations. With the addition of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to our College this fall, we have significantly increased the number of our faculty actively engaged in this important issue of our time. 

Expressions highlights the amazing work of Professor Diane Guerrazzi, whose students are reporting on the refugee crisis in Greece and Italy. Their television special report illustrates the award-winning quality of student work produced within our journalism program. We are also highlighting the SJSU production of a short film adapted from John Steinbeck’s “Breakfast”; while not directly part of our Borderlands theme, it addresses many of the same issues. Professors Cathleen Miller, whose work is profiled in this issue, and Virginia San Fratello, whose instillation at the U.S./Mexico border went viral this summer, are actively engaging these issues of Borderlands within their own writings and design work. 

At the intersection of student work, college programming, and faculty research, we are seeing the importance of these issues within the College of Humanities and the Arts. Please see for our list of events throughout 2019–20. And we hope to have just as dynamic a programming season around these themes in 2020–2021. 

Exciting things are happening in the College of Humanities and the Arts as we highlight the power and importance of the arts and humanities within our world today. Please join us for these explorations! 

shannon miller


Shannon Miller

Dean, College of Humanities and the Arts